Virus doesn't slow down Colts' Damian
Week five of the high school football season was highly offensive especially to defensive coordinators.
Friday's results kept scoreboard operators and statisticians extremely busy as teams accumulated points and yards at a frenetic pace.
The nine TIMES NEWS area teams combined for 262 points, an average of over 29 points per game. Their opponents were nearly as explosive, scoring 260 points. That means the nine games involving local teams had an average of 58.0 points being scored. The yardage numbers were just as crazy with teams averaging a combined 694.2 total yards per game.
With all that offense, you couldn't blame defensive players for wanting to stay off the field.
Ironically, the subject of this week's OVERTIME column had every reason to stay off the Friday night. But fortunately for the Marian Colts, he not only played, but he seldom came off the field.
This week, OVERTIME will lead with the gutsy performance displayed by the Colts' Lukas Damian. We'll also share some interesting information about Panther Valley's Mark Williams, Northwestern's Cam Richardson, Pleasant Valley's Nick Huerta, and a few other teams and players who had notable performances last week.
There is no question Marian would not have been able to upset North Schuylkill in their Anthracite Football League battle on Friday without some huge contributions from senior Lukas Damian.
What was in question, however, was whether Damian was even going to be able to play in the game.
"Lukas was battling some type of virus before the game," said Marian coach Stan Dakosty. "He had a fever and wasn't feeling well.
"He missed the walk through and also our special teams work before the game."
Dakosty said the Colts' training staff spent the hours before the game pumping some Gatorade into Damian and having him relax.
When game time rolled around, Damian was on the field making it impossible for North Schuylkill to relax.
After playing several different offensive positions during the first half of the game, Damian was called in to quarterback the Colts after starter KJ Snerr went down with an injury in the third quarter.
In his first series behind center, Damian carried the ball four straight times, scoring what proved to be the game-winning touchdown on a highlight-film carry from 12 yards out.
While Damian's runs out of the Colts' pistol formation in that drive got most of the attention after the game, his defensive numbers against the Spartans were even more impressive.
A week after returning an interception for a touchdown and picking up two sacks against Conwell-Egan, Damian added three more sacks and 12 tackles against a North Schuylkill team that entered the game with a 3-1 record.
And he did it all while playing at significantly less than 100 percent.
"Lukas is a warrior," said Dakosty. "I can't say enough about his performance, especially under those circumstances.
"A lot of kids probably wouldn't have been able to play let alone play as much and as well as he did in the condition he was in before the game. Add to that the fact that he did it against an extremely talented North Schuylkill team and his performance is even more impressive."
The huge defensive effort by Damian is something that has been a common occurrence during the first half of the season.
The 6-2, 230-pound linebacker has had double figure tackles in each of Marian's first five games, including 18 stops in the opener against Lehighton and 22 tackles against Mahanoy Area.
"Lukas is a football player," said Dakosty. "He's a coach's son. He knows the game and plays it with a tremendous amount of energy and passion.
"I kept telling everyone that even though we were struggling as a team early in the season, Lukas was playing outstanding football. In my opinion, he's one of the best football players in the state of Pennsylvania."
Thanks in large part to contributions from Damian, the Colts have now won two straight games and appear to be building momentum after starting the season 0-3.
"We have a very young team," said Damian. "But we're starting to play with more confidence as the season goes on and we gain experience.
"I try to do my best to help out the team any way I can. Whether it's on offense, or defense, or by being a leader in the locker room, I just want to help us keep improving."
Friday night, Damian proved that even when he's not at 100 percent, he still does all of those things and he does them very well.
FIELD GOAL DROUGHT ENDED ... Panther Valley's Mark Williams booted a 26-yard field goal in Friday's game against Schuylkill Haven.
The three-pointer ended a long stretch of games without a field goal at Panther Valley.
The last field goal by a Panther came 130 games ago when Dan Blazosky connected on a 25-yarder against Tamaqua on Oct. 20, 2000.
DIALING UP LONG DISTANCE SCORES ... Northwestern's Cam Richardson caught a 64-yard touchdown pass and also returned a kickoff 94 yards for a score in Friday's 33-27 victory over Notre Dame.
The last time a Tiger player scored two TDs of 60 or more yards in a game was Sept. 24, 1999 (155 games ago) when Ben Clark had touchdown runs of 72 and 71 yards against Palisades in a 27-6 win.
Since Clark's two long scores, Northwestern had a player score two or more TDs in a game 93 times without having a pair of them cover 60 or more yards.
COAST-TO-COAST ... Pleasant Valley's Nick Huerta returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown in Friday's win over Wyomissing.
The last TIMES NEWS area player to return a kickoff that far for a score was Dean Confer of Marian who had a 98-yarder on Sept. 21, 2007 at Halifax.
In the last 20 years, the only other Bear player to have a kickoff return of 90 or more yards for a TD was Rob Getz, who brought one back 93 yards against Honesdale on Sept. 11, 2009.
COLTS PLAY IT CLOSE .... Marian pulled off an upset on Friday night when it posted a 27-26 victory over North Schuylkill.
It was the first one-point decision for the Colts since Sept. 7, 2007 when they edged Schuylkill Haven, 34-33, in overtime.
The last time Marian recorded a one-point win in regulation was Sept. 18, 2004 when it edged Mahanoy Area, 8-7.
In the Colts' history, which dates back to 1954, they have an all-time record of 20-7 in games decided by one point.
OVERTIME WORK ... Lehighton lost a tough 35-34 overtime decision to Dieruff on Friday night.
The game marked the first time in school history the Indians lost an overtime game. Prior to Friday's game, Lehighton was 4-0 in OT games.
The last time the Indians played an overtime game was Nov. 3, 2006 (67 games ago) when it defeated Jim Thorpe, 27-20.
GROUND GAME ... In the OT game Lehighton played last Friday, the Indians' Tyler Cann and Wyatt Clements led a ground attack that ran the ball a total of 61 times.
The last time the Indians had that many carries in one contest was Sept. 4, 2004 (99 games ago) when they had 62 against Marian. Dave Versuk was the leading ballcarrier in that contest with 29 attempts.
Since the TIMES NEWS began printing individual statistics with its game stories (in 1988), Lehighton never had two players carry the ball 20 times in the same contest. Cann and Clements accomplished the feat on Friday with Cann carrying 28 times and Clements finishing with 23 attempts.